WITH THE Rugby World Cup quarter-finals in sight and live on ITV1 this weekend, 8-9 October, there’s just time to pause and take stock of the tournament so far, while reliving all the best moments with ITV Player and taking a look at what’s coming up. So, what have we learnt from the opening stages of rugby’s spectacular showpiece?
Nobody likes England, they don’t care
You wear an All Blacks ‘tribute kit’, practice your rucking in a bar, abuse locals, and for some reason nobody likes you! Still, it’s not The X Factor and Martin Johnson’s red rose warriors can’t be voted out. So, as long as they keep grinding out victories uglier than a prop forward’s ear, the hurtful words have no sting. And, if the pack remembers there are seven other blokes in their team, those ugly wins might even get a makeover.
See England in their 2003 pomp.
There is life after Dan Carter
One day TV technology will prove that Dan Carter actually hovers a few millimetres above the turf. The divinely gifted New Zealand skipper is the greatest fly-half in the world, and his bizarre tournament-ending injury caused mass panic across the country. But, hours later the All Blacks eviscerated Canada 79-15, and Carter’s replacement Colin Slade proved something we all knew in our hearts: while the jury might be out on Santa, there’s definitely no such thing as a bad All Black.
The French are still revolutionary
Jump a queue in Paris, or order a sparkling wine with beef in Bordeaux and you could have a revolution on your hands. Just a year after the French football team revolted at the FIFA World Cup, their rugby counterparts are busy imagining what coach Marc Lievremont might look like on a guillotine. Teased by New Zealand and humbled by Tonga, France are on the brink of rebellion, and with passions running high, the quarter-final against England may resemble the battle of Waterloo. England will be happy with a similar outcome. We mean a win, not widespread carnage. But no side can turn a shambles into the sublime like the French – Martin Johnson you’ve been warned.
Drop goals do count
They may lack the glamour of a try, and require the perfect storm of conditions involving vectors, crosswinds, and actual voodoo, but drop goals can be killer scores. Jonny Wilkinson’s peach won the 2003 World Cup, and in this tournament, with England trailing Scotland 12-3, it was a Wilkinson drop goal that put his side back in the game. People might not like them, but until they stop being worth three points, they’ll be match winners so expect a few guest appearances in the quarter-finals.
The Celts are coming
You can normally bet your favourite aunt on Wales and Ireland chok… er, underachieving. But with Ireland’s mastering of Australia and demolition of Italy, added to the fact Wales could probably score a try without leaving the locker room, it’s clear these Celtic cousins are on a roll. Can Ireland finally live up to their talent? Can Wales reach the summit of a sport they love as much as singing and dragons?
Watch the Welsh in Grand Slam form.
What do you think are the big lessons from the Rugby World Cup so far? Let us know by leaving a comment. And for sport, film and TV chit-chat, follow @tvfrombt on Twitter/tvfrombt